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Upgrading to Vista?

February 18, 2007

Filed under: CAD/CAM/CAE,review — Terry Wohlers @ 09:58

I’m not. XP Pro is just fine, thank you. My first in-depth experience with Vista will likely occur when I purchase a new desktop computer. The one at my desk is about three years old, so it may happen in the next year or so. Am I excited about working with a new OS? Not really. 2006 was the first time in 20 years that Wohlers Associates had all of its computers running the same OS. Many years ago, we were running DOS, Windows, Mac, and UNIX—at the same time—and the computers were networked, although not as smoothly as they are today. Life in the office is much better now.

Ralph Grabowski reported in his February 3, 2007 upFront.eZine newsletter that CAD software runs dramatically slower on computers equipped with Vista. Compared to XP, Pro/E runs 6.7x slower, SolidWorks 9x slower, and UGS NX an unbelievable 50x slower. Grabowski goes on to say that the reason for the poor performance is Microsoft’s decision to abandon support of the OpenGL graphics library in Vista. Most CAD software companies use OpenGL, so until they support Microsoft’s Direct3D graphics system, CAD software performance will be horrible.

According Grabowski’s February 10 issue of his newsletter, UGS stated that it plans to support Vista and expects to complete testing later this year. With new graphics drivers, UGS does not anticipate performance to be an issue for NX, Solid Edge, and other UGS products.

In the same newsletter, Grabowski pointed out that OpenGL is only one reason for the terrible performance. Vista’s file system checking takes up valuable resources. Also, he explained that Vista checks all computer hardware 30 times per second to ensure that its digital rights management (DRM) hasn’t been compromised—another reason for its lackluster performance.

The World is Small

February 5, 2007

Filed under: additive manufacturing,education,future,life — Terry Wohlers @ 18:12

New information, methods, and applications of technology are transferred so incredibly fast today, compared to years ago. South Africa is a case in point. It is currently applying some of the most advanced technology in the world and receiving a constant flow of machines, software, and know-how from the U.S. and Europe. One organization is running five laser sintering systems, two stereolithography systems, fused deposition modeling, and a system from Solidscape. Not only is it considered the leader on the African continent, it is now considered world class, given the advancements this organization has made in recent years. Other organizations in South Africa are not far behind.

I attended a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December. Most of the information discussed at the event was cutting edge. Individuals were eagerly talking about the latest in 3D printing and how they might apply additive fabrication to custom and short run production. Some of the latest machines and example parts and assemblies were on display. The conference and small exhibit were not a lot different from what you’d see in the U.S., Europe, or Japan.

The industry is maturing with product distribution and service organizations expanding into countries that before were not considered viable markets. The availability of new products and services in these regions of the world is helping to create knowledge and experience among people inspired by a range of industry and academic meetings and events.

New information is being distributed quickly in far away places, as easily as sending it across the street. Now, if only a plane trip to South Africa or Asia was five hours instead of more than 15 hours, the world would be even smaller.